It seems that every day there's a new report touting the newest finds in foods that fight cancer. However, unless at you're at risk for a specific type of cancer, changing to a diet to fight cancer may seem like an overwhelming task-but it doesn't have to be. General anti-cancer diet guidelines include cutting fat and increasing your fiber and fruit and vegetable intake to naturally boost the amount of antioxidants in your diet. By incorporating these and other small changes in your diet, you'll find that eating a cancer-fighting diet soon becomes second nature.
According to the American Cancer Society, the exact relationship between fat and cancer isn't known however, there is evidence that suggests that saturated fats may increase the risk of developing cancer. Further, diets high in fat have been linked to obesity which in turn has been linked with increased risk of some cancers.
Eating a diet low in fat and very low in saturated fats, may help fight cancer in two ways: reducing the body's levels of low-density lipoproteins which feed tumor growth and decreasing your body's production of bile which, if allowed to stagnate in the large intestine, converts to a carcinogen called apcholic acid.
Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by limiting your consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy products and avoid foods that trans fats. Aim to keep your overall fat intake to less 20% of your total calories each day (for a 2,000-calorie diet, that's less than 45 grams) and choose foods that are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids like salmon, flaxseed and canola oil.
High-fiber foods are believed to help move potential carcinogens through the intestines faster, lessening the amount of time the intestinal wall is exposed to them. Fiber is also thought to help absorb bile acids, thus preventing decaying food from encouraging harmful changes in cells.
Try to eat at least 25 grams of fiber today from a variety of sources, with an emphasis on whole grains, legumes and fresh vegetables. If 25 grams sounds like a lot, start by trading your favorite breakfast for bran cereal or slow-cooked oatmeal, adding beans to soups and salads and transitioning from "white foods" like bread and pasta to their whole-grain counterparts. Be sure to read food labels so you can track your fiber intake.
Eliminate or Limit Red Meat
Several medical studies, including The China Study indicate a relationship between consuming animal proteins and increased risk for cancer. The exact correlation is still being studied, but it's been suggested that diets high in animal fat may increase the body's levels of bile, which can feed tumors. In cultures where meat is minimally consumed or not consumed at all, the incidences of certain cancers are markedly lower than in the US.
Consider eliminating or limiting your consumption of red meat and other animal proteins and choosing vegetarian proteins like tofu or tempeh. Soy is believes to contain anti-cancer substances that, in particular, seem to reduce the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer. Consider using soy milk in your cereal instead of your regular milk or adding tofu to a stir-fry for dinner.
Eat More Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Medical research from hundreds of studies is clear: A diet full of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of all types of cancers. Why? Plants contain produce phytochemicals to protect themselves and these phytochemicals may support the body's immune system and many have antioxidant properties that help prevent certain types of cancer.
If you're not already the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables, gradually increase your intake until you're eating 5 to 9 servings daily. Whenever possible, eat fruits and vegetables raw to ensure you're getting the maximum antioxidant benefit. If you don't like your vegetables raw, prepare them lightly steamed or blanched.
Change Your Oil
Avoid vegetables oils that are high in saturated fats. Choose cold, expeller-pressed olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil or walnut oils for cooking, each of which contains good amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and offers a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids.
On the occasions when you do cook with oil, be sure to cook at medium to medium-low heats. Heat changes oil's molecular structure and heating to the point of smoke may create carcinogenic compounds in the oil. For high-heat cooking needs look for specially formulated high-heat canola oils or choose grapeseed oil which retains its molecular structure at higher temperatures.
Make Friends with Flaxseed
Flaxseed contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress changes that lead to breast cancer and colon cancer. Flaxseed is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect against colon cancer and heart disease. Look for whole flaxseed, ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil.
Look for cereals that contain flax or flaxseed or sprinkle whole or ground flaxseed into your oatmeal or yogurt or toss with salad.
Drink More Tea
Green tea and black tea contain the antioxidant-rich polyphenols, which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Dry green tea leaves also contains catechins, which may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Consider transitioning from coffee to tea or making hot and cold teas your beverage of choice throughout the day.
Have a Glass of Wine
Red grapes and the wine made from contain polyphenols, antioxidants that may protect against several types of cancer, as well as resveratrol which blocks a key protein that cancer cells need to survive. Although several cancer studies find in favor of drinking red wine, drinking large amounts is discouraged. Drink red wine in moderation by having one 4 to 6oz glass daily at mealtime.
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